North American Nature Photography Association

Connecting The Nature Photography Community


Ethics Committee

Charge: Gather, disseminate and promote information on ethical issues involving nature photography.

Points of View -

NANPA does not set or enforce rules for ethical conduct. Rather, it is our hope that articles like these will promote thought and discussion among NANPA members, and allow each individual to make informed choices about ethical behavior. While nature photographers often disagree on ethical issues, they usually show respect for other people's opinions, and refrain from personal attacks. We hope this trend will continue.

Completed Projects


NANPA's Ethics Committee has issued a "Principles of Ethical Field Practices" statement (AKA Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct). The Environment Committee has conducted a survey of the membership to determine members' feelings in the environmental area. The board recognizes that an individual's concept of ethical behavior and feelings about the environment are very personal. Consequently, NANPA may issue guidelines and suggestions in these two areas but will in no way attempt to dictate policies either to members or nonmembers.


    NANPA believes that following these practices promotes the well-being of the location, subject and photographer. Every place, plant, and animal, whether above or below water, is unique, and cumulative impacts occur over time. Therefore, one must always exercise good individual judgment. It is NANPA's belief that these principles will encourage all who participate in the enjoyment of nature to do so in a way that best promotes good stewardship of the resource.

    Environmental: knowledge of subject and place

    • Learn patterns of animal behavior--know when not to interfere with animals' life cycles.
    • Respect the routine needs of animals--remember that others will attempt to photograph them, too.
    • Use appropriate lenses to photograph wild animals--if an animal shows stress, move back and use a longer lens.
    • Acquaint yourself with the fragility of the ecosystem--stay on trails that are intended to lessen impact.

    Social: knowledge of rules and laws

    • When appropriate, inform managers or other authorities of your presence and purpose--help minimize cumulative impacts and maintain safety.
    • Learn the rules and laws of the location--if minimum distances exist for approaching wildlife, follow them.
    • In the absence of management authority, use good judgement--treat the wildlife, plants and places as if you were their guest.
    • Prepare yourself and your equipment for unexpected events--avoid exposing yourself and others to preventable mishaps.

    Individual: expertise and responsibilities

    • Treat others courteously--ask before joining others already shooting in an area.
    • Tactfully inform others if you observe them engaging in inappropriate or harmful behavior--many people unknowingly endanger themselves and animals.
    • Report inappropriate behavior to proper authorities--don't argue with those who don't care; report them.
    • Be a good role model, both as a photographer and a citizen--educate others by your actions; enhance their understanding.

    Adopted February 3, 1996 by the NANPA board of directors.

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